Sometimes it’s hard to make a complaint to a business. It might be because it’s someone you know, or just because it feels like making trouble for yourself. Usually though, people want to do the right thing and will be happy to fix any problems. They can only help you if they know there’s a problem.

Making the complaint

In person

You might want to make your complaint in person. You can do this by visiting their store, workshop or office.

Some tips:

  • Decide in advance what you want to happen. Do you want a refund, a repair or an exchange? Do you want them to do the job again, but get it right this time?
  • If the problem’s with an item you bought, bring it with you to show them.
  • Bring your receipt and any other documents you might need.
  • Remember what day and time you went in, and who you spoke to. Write it all down so you don’t forget.
  • Remember anything they said to you when you were buying it, including anything they promised.

Over the phone

Sometimes, a phone call may be all it takes to sort out a problem. Some tips to remember:

  • Make a note before you call about what you want to say.
  • Have all your receipts and other documents handy.
  • Take note of the date and time you make the call.
  • Write down the name of the person you speak to. This may help if you need to contact the business again.
  • Make notes of what you say and what the other person says.
  • If the matter is serious or involves a lot of money, follow up your call with a letter.

In writing

You can write to the business to complain if:

  • you’ve already tried by phone or in person
  • you just prefer to write.

Here are some tips for writing to a trader:

  • Tell them where and when you bought the item or service. Remember that some businesses have many different stores in different places.
  • Describe the item or service, including how much it cost.
  • Tell them what’s wrong with it.
  • Tell them what you have already done. Have you phoned them? Visited them in the store? Did you speak to any staff? What did they say at the time?
  • Explain how you want them to fix the problem. Do you want a refund or a repair? Do you want them to do the job again and get it right?
  • Set a deadline. Tell them you expect to hear back from them and get an answer by then.
  • Keep copies of all the letters you send, and everything they send back.

You can post, email or hand-deliver your letter. It’s your choice.

You should address your letter to the manager. If you know who the manager is, you can address it to that person by name. Otherwise, just write ‘The Manager’.

Some tips

  • When you post a letter, send photocopies of your receipts and guarantees. Don’t send the original documents. The business might misplace them or they could get lost in the mail.
  • Send them a reminder letter if you don’t hear back from them. Give them about 2 weeks to respond, and then write the reminder letter. Don’t let them ignore you.
  • Set a deadline. Tell them you expect to hear back from them and get an answer by then.

Getting help

Contact us for advice on how to solve the problem.